The craziest in-car automotive gadgets

Gadgets from the automotive world that'll make you say "Wow, that’s cool!" or "Wow, that's... ridiculous."

  • [[xref:|Fuel Checker]]

    Introducing quite possibly the most pointless of gadgets to grace the automotive market: the Fuel Checker.

    The Fuel Checker is a small device that hooks onto the inside of your car's fuel cap and detects whether or not your putting the wrong petrol into your car. When the petrol pump is inserted into the tank, lights on the device blink red if the fuel is the wrong type or shine green if it is correct.

    Instead of knowing what petrol to put into your own car, putting a sticker behind the petrol cap as a reminder to others or merely reading the distinctive label on the pump at every petrol station, you can pick up the handy Fuel Checker to save your car the deadly common mistake of using the wrong petrol.
  • [[xref:|Drive E Moticon LED Car Sign]]

    While you're a moving discothèque, why not invoke the wrath of road raging drivers all around you, too? Enter the Drive E Moticon LED Car Sign.
    As the Web site says, this device signals your displeasure "when a single finger gesture can perfectly express your sentiments to a fellow vehicle operator." The battery-powered LED screen is attached to the rear window of the vehicle and is controlled wirelessly by remote control. The user chooses between five functions: sad face, happy face, 'thanks', 'back off', and 'idiot.' To our displeasure, you can't customise these functions.
  • [[xref:|Maplock]]

    Remember those big, clunky club locks you see in old cars with no central locking? The long steel bars that lock into the steering wheel? Aussie company Who-Rae Australia has brought this same concept to GPS devices.

    Since [[xref:|sat navs are the latest targets for thieves]], Who-Rae has produced the [[xref:|Maplock device]], which won the Popular Mechanic's Editor's Choice award at the SEMA car show last year. The lock fits diagonally over your GPS, and is then secured to the steering wheel via a steel cable. So thieves will either take your steering wheel and your GPS, or just won't bother at all. If you value your GPS that much, you can pick up a Maplock for just US$50.
  • Everybody loves gadgets, but there is something about gadgets and cars that just screams cool. Not everyone agrees though — Queensland police earlier this year said that [[xref:|distractions from sat navs, in-car DVD players and mobile phones]] were as big a problem for road safety as speeding, drink-driving, fatigue and seatbelts.

    To do our part, we're going to look at the top in-car gadgets and flashy, LED-lined distractions to fill your death-trap with. As icing on the cake, we'll also be checking out some of the more pointless gadgets out there that'll make you say, "Maybe I could come up with cool stuff like this if I lacked a few chromosomes, too!"

    [[xref:|PimpStar wheels]]

    If you've ever listened to a T-Pain song, you'll know that to be gangsta or fly, you must have DUBs. DUB is a company specialising in custom wheels for vehicular excess, ranging from sparkling chrome to spinning disc wheels. But nothing says you're a gangsta rollin' on DUBs more than a bright yellow smiley face or a cartoon alien.

    This is the latest addition from the guys over at DUB Custom Wheels — PimpStar wheels. At least you'll distract other drivers instead of yourself while your wheels use built-in full colour LED lights, a microprocessor and a wireless modem to display images, text, graphics, logos and digital photos. Sounds real pimpin'
  • [[xref:|Keychain camera]]

    In Australia, we have a privacy laws that make it illegal to record someone's voice without their permission. But hey, who can resist a bit of privacy invasion with this cleverly disguised camera. Capturing video, audio and still images on a device in the shape of a central locking remote, the Keychain camera allows users to record and take photos while pretending they're unlocking their car or holding their keys.

    "Holding a set of keys in your hand is perfectly natural and it would also be completely unremarkable to put your keys down on a table in front of you. If you position them carefully, you can record everything that you want it to, without anyone noticing that they're on camera," says the Web site. They do have a disclaimer that warns of potential legal issues with recording, so even if you get arrested for using the camera, they won't.
  • [[xref:|Toshiba facial recognition]]

    GPS devices and in-car entertainment systems are becoming more of a risk to drivers with wandering eyes, so Toshiba has latched onto problem with some exciting new technology. Toshiba exhibited a camera system at the Automotive Engineering Exhibition in Japan last year that recognises where the driver is looking to alert inattentive drivers. These include those who are presumable too busy fondling the stereo or tinkering with their GPS.
    In a step bringing your car closer to becoming [[artnid:344653|KITT from Knight Rider]], a computer is attached to the camera that detects the direction the driver's face and eyes are pointing in to work out whether or not they're paying attention to the road. The software can also detect if a driver is falling into a microsleep by measuring blinks. It’d make [[xref:|Dr Karl proud]]. The technology is yet to be commercialised.
  • [[xref:|Steering wheel laptop desk]]

    For those with a death wish comes the most dangerous of all in-car implements. Worse than a knife. More dangerous than a gun. Yes, it's a laptop desk for your steering wheel.
    Maybe it's the age of Facebook where you can no longer drive to work without wanting a quick squiz of your news feed. Or maybe it's a terrorist plot to wreak havoc on our highways. Either way, this convenient chopping board laptop desk is available at an ultra-low US$25.
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